From the rocky shore on the Greek island of Lesbos, I can see them coming. They first appear as tiny black dots on the horizon, barely visible to the naked eye. In the background are the sloping bluffs of western Turkey.
With the turbulent sea below them and a gray sky above, they risk it all to escape. The wind kicks up, and the dot comes into focus. It’s a rubber raft filled with Syrian refugees taking a treacherous journey across the Aegean Sea in order to flee the violent civil war taking place in their homeland.
I’m standing on the shore with other Samaritan’s Purse staff members waiting to welcome them with dry clothes, food, and water. As the small rubber raft slams into the jagged rocks on shore, volunteers rush to the boat to help offload women and children who are shaking off the cold. Their expressions show a wide range of emotions, including fear, excitement, and sadness.
Back in Syria, war has destroyed their homes, killed family and friends, and threatened their futures. Staying put was no longer an option. One young mother we spoke to mentioned that she was simply looking for “anywhere to live.”
Displaced foreigners face a tough road. Since 2015, more than 1.2 million refugees have crossed into Europe by sea. More than 3,000 have died trying to cross this year alone.
As people of faith, we must do all we can to care for refugees. This is God’s heart. In Deuteronomy 10:18-19, we see it firsthand: “He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (NKJV).
Editor’s Note: In the past year, Samaritan’s Purse has provided refugee camps with water and sanitation, food distributions, hygiene kits, shelter materials such as blankets and tarps, and onsite personnel. We’re also supporting local churches engaging in the refugee communities through food and clothing distributions and through family activities such as classes and sports camps.